Monthly Archives: July 2009

Grégoire Alexandre in Yatzer

one

Enjoyed this short, but sweet interview in Yatzer with Grégoire Alexandre, the 27-year old French photographer that has already established an impressive portfolio.

two

I Scan

i scan, therefore i am

Mid-day at the office: the M&M bowl was empty so while I skipped around the corner to purchase more, Simon scanned the void. And a few crumbs. Did you know M&Ms had crumbs?

Unbranding

starbucks1

Starbucks’ attempt to go local starts tomorrow when it unveils its latest venture in Seattle called 15th Avenue Coffee & Tea, an artisan-esque café filled with rustic wood and straight-back chairs. The sign outside reportedly reads ‘Inspired by Starbucks’, but the truth behind it is ‘Owned and operated by Starbucks.’ I don’t think anyone is missing out on the fact that it is a corporate venture, but I can’t shake a sense of cynicism as they try to take two steps left. An interesting exercise in unbranding, or the business version of an extreme makeover, that reads as a desperate attempt to back away from a business model that has turned stale and cliché. I could applaud a return to their Northwest roots. But while the Seattle Times explains that it will sell a rotating menu of beer and wine alongside the usual offerings of coffee, tea, and food, the Seattle Metblogs reports that only one wine is from the Northwest (Oregon to be precise). Not so convincing for a local venture.

It’s Supposed to Feel Small

This week, I sat in a room with a very smart technologist. As I heard him describe the shiny new, the new new…For a moment, the other ideas we’d brought in our little deck felt small. But I reminded myself: they’re supposed to be small. They’re supposed to be real. They’re supposed to build a relation(I won’t even say it because it’s become such an overused word that’s a little tasteless at the moment because we’re sick of saying it and hearing it). Yes, technology empowers. Technology is incredible these days. But don’t lose sight. At the end of the day, small, often, real, honest, respectful of real needs, of real yearning little desires that only you and your nice little set up can provide… that matters. That surprises. That means something. Use technology. Love new technology. But don’t lose sight.

(via wearethedigitalkids)

*Happy Birthday Brenna*

you and me

Happy Birthday Brenna. I thought you would like a goat this year!

Merce Cunningham 1919-2009

So Tiny and Meaningless

Franny and Zooey

(via Books Rule)

The Glass Delusion (aka Scholar’s Melancholy)

The Glass Delusion was an external manifestation of a psychiatric disorder recorded in Europe in the late middle ages (15th to 17th centuries). People feared that they were made of glass “and therefore likely to shatter into pieces”. One famous early sufferer was King Charles VI of France who refused to allow people to touch him, and wore reinforced clothing to protect himself from accidental “shattering”.

The sufferer could believe or claim that he was any sort of glass object. A 1561 account reported a sufferer “who had to relieve himself standing up, fearing that if he sat down his buttocks would shatter… The man concerned was a glass-maker from the Parisian suburb of Saint Germain, who constantly applied a small cushion to his buttocks, even when standing. He was cured of this obsession by a severe thrashing from the doctor, who told him that his pain emanated from buttocks of flesh.”

Concentration of the glass delusion among the wealthy and educated classes allowed modern scholars to associate it with a wider and better described disorder of Scholar’s Melancholy.

(via unicornology: colporteur)

Book Snobbery

my books

Cleaning out my horribly overloaded inbox led me to unearth two great finds. This photo of the bookshelf of a writer with the initials E.W. The bookshelf of his holiday home is laden with books that, unfortunately for his friends, aren’t up for grabs. The second discovery was this NY Times article Essays about Love and Literary Taste, describing how similarity in favorite authors and books can be the start (or dissimilarity the end) to romance.

“Anyone who cares about books has at some point confronted the Pushkin problem: when a missed — or misguided — literary reference makes it chillingly clear that a romance is going nowhere fast. At least since Dante’s Paolo and Francesca fell in love over tales of Lancelot, literary taste has been a good shorthand for gauging compatibility.”

The World Atlas of Innovation

WAINOVA

Innovation is a word that gets tossed around with such frequency these days that it sometimes carries less impact than it should. In comes the WAINOVA visualization of the hubs of innovation around the world to breathe fresh air into the word. This project from the data visualizers Bestario (via infosthetics) illustrates the many centers that comprise the World Alliance for Innovation, a collection of science parks and business incubators around the world. The visualization brings to life the numerous players that create a network of knowledge focused on change and progress.

Fresh Ink

light headedwith child

The ante has been upped with a fresh style in ink from tattoo artist Yann. Coming from Quebec, his site boldly proclaims ‘Your meat is mine.’

Ce Soir

Beautiful stop-motion music video for Ce Soir by Monogrenade. Directed by Christophe Collette.

Tangible Media and Digital Technology

New Yorker cover

I recently enjoyed a Vanity Fair article by James Wolcott on the demise of public displays of cultural snobbery as “Kindles, iPods, and flash drives swallow up the visible markers of superior tastes and intelligence.” Wolcott described the process of observation, analysis, and judgment we make (often mistakenly) on others and the media they consume in public spaces.

“A tall, straw-thin model glides into seated position and extracts a copy of concentration-camp survivor Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning from her bag, instantly making an onlooker (me) feel rebuked for assuming she was vacuous and self-centered based on her baby-ostrich stare.”

This reminded me of a New Yorker cover by Adrian Tomine, a beautiful example of the connection strangers feel when they discover a shared sensibility, literature in this case. The awareness of a missed connection is eclipsed by the warmth of a momentary intellectual affinity.

Some may value the reclaimed storage space over the mounds of books or old records, while others resist the push to digitize their media sources entirely or partially. For my part, the convenience and accessibility of digitized information is without dispute. But when it comes to books, part of my appreciation for reading stems from the sensory experience that the materiality of the hard copy brings. Yet, electronic paper and eInk are fascinating technologies in themselves, and it’s impossible to separate even a hard copy from a technological process entirely, something N. Katherine Hayles discusses in her book My Mother was a Computer. Her article on Electronic Literature emphasizes that instead of a debate over print or digital, this emerging genre deserves a discussion of its own while acknowledging its historical relationship with the print world. And we can happily keep our shelves lined with books while still recognizing a new manifestation in the field of writing.

These were some of my thoughts as I read through the article, so I was quite pleased when Simon told me about a book-sensitive reading lamp.  The lamp is illuminated when uncovered, but turns off when a book is placed over it. It’s a nice example that the relationship between tangible media and technology can sometimes be reversed, with the former dictating the use of the latter.

Lamp OnLamp Off

The Uniform Project

uniform project

While checking up on the progress of The Uniform Project a year-long fundraiser for the Akanksha Foundation that is 80 days underway I was impressed by the range of styles Sheena Matheiken is pulling off. With only one dress for 365 days, she’s demonstrating how to get more mileage out of your clothing by styling it with layers, accessories, and a range of accoutrements.

There has been a lot of talk during the recent economic upheaval about how to refashion an old wardrobe, but the aim of this project is to raise funds for the education of children living in the slums of India. It also fits nicely within a framework  that promotes a more sustainable consciousness of the fabric and materials used in clothing today. Prolonging the lifespan of clothing is explored in depth in a great report by the University of Cambridge entitled Well Dressed. The report recommends a consumer change in mindset, some of which are reflected in The Uniform Project:

  • Buy second-hand clothing and textiles where possible
  • Buy fewer and more durable clothes
  • Choose clothes and textile products made with the lowest energy and toxic emissions, and based on good information on labour standards
  • Lease clothing that wouldn’t otherwise reach the end of its natural life
  • Wash clothes less often, at lower temperatures, use eco-detergents, hang-dry clothes and avoid ironing where possible
  • Repair clothes where possible to extend their natural lives
  • Dispose of garments through recycling businesses

Machine Dreams

photo by Van Damme M.

photo by Van Damme M.

Attended an awesome Crystal Castles concert last night at Melkweg, on day 4 of 5 Days Off. A brisk performance that ended too soon, but opened the night up for some great DJs. Halfway through the night, I wandered over to the Oude Zaal where I was introduced to the music of the Gent duo Nid and Sancy. Wonderfully vacuous lyrics and addictively danceable beats.

Keep Moving

life

(via Rebel Without a Cause)

Welcome to Advertising! Now Get Lost

cover

This book by Omkar Sane is a satirical take on the advertising world, specifically the studio. Sane drifted through the industry in many different positions, from designer to copywriter, which enabled him to get a first-hand view of its idiosyncrasies, but not get entangled. I’ll pretend none of his insights apply to any place I have ever worked!

the client

“The Client Pledge: My brand is my livelihood. All Servicing are my slaves and all Creative just think they are over smart. I Love my Brand. I am proud of its rich and varied ambiguity. I shall always strive to be worthy of it and make everyone working on it feel like shit. I shall loathe and insult all those working on my account. Yes, the CD included. To my brand, my profession, and my Agency professionals I pledge my devotion.”

the studio“The Studio is the busiest, most efficient place in any Agency with hard working, simple men, working away meticulously, guided by a bored, lethargic or dead Art Director sitting behind them, ‘directing’ art.”

the pitch

“Winning a Client is like wooing a girl – you spend on her, impress her with flashy things she doesn’t understand, pamper her, meet her unreasonable demands, be on your toes at all times of the day (and night), and massage her ego before she becomes yours. And the process of winning a Client is called a Pitch.”

the copywriterthe creative director

Books in Insadong

books ad infinitum

A few years ago, while living in Seoul, I spent many Sunday afternoons in Insadong, an artsy Korean neighborhood filled with teahouses, art boutiques, a green tea ice cream shop, and several book shops. This one was my favorite, filled to the brim with books stacked in every free space. Today, a rainy Sunday in Amsterdam, I’d like to be in Insadong and stroll the streets. I’d get a cup of plum tea then go to this book shop and run my fingers over the books to disturb the inevitable layer of fine dust.

Zoen Balloon

zoen ballon shirtYea! I received my Zoen Balloon shirt in the mail yesterday. I was happy to find this nice design as I wait for my Pedro Panda shirt to arrive from Bogota. It was the first sunny day in a while, so I wore it to the park to play badminton. Thanks to Sue Doeksen (and Miss Bierbaum for the tip)!

I Love You Too

blogs and coffee

Just watched Coffee and Cigarettes last night – finally! And enjoyed seeing this nice photo this morning as I drank my cup (via Something Changed, tiphereth, Rhys Isterix, dutyfreesins).